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By: theoutsyder83, Josh Cornwell
Aug 24 2011 8:24am
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The first version was stictly a budget deck. 

The second version added some money cards, but didn't go overboard.

The current version is pushing the limits of my wallet, but it's still a blast to play and is much more competitive now.

Here's what I ran at last weekend's FNM:

 
The deck still does stupid things with big Dungrove Elders, and that's still the most effective game plan. Now, though, cards that made the Dungrove plan marginally better (like Trinket Mage and Basilisk Collar) have been replaced with cards that make the deck more versatile (like Garruk), more consistent (like Green Sun's Zenith) or more disruptive (YAY, MANA LEAK!).
 
Last Weekend's FNM:
Match One vs. Bant Pod
Game one, kept a fairly slow hand with Mana Leaks. I baited out the first Birthing Pod by choosing not to drop a blue land at all, and countering it with blue from Birds of Paradise. My opponent commented on how surprised he was, and I started beating down with an emissary and a small Dungrove Elder. It wasn't enough, though. He had birds and elves to chump block, and eventually dropped an Admonition Angel and started removing my guys from play. By this point, my Dungrove was only a 5/5 and couldn't trade. As it turns out, a 6/6 flyer that can kill your birds before they chump block is a pretty fast clock. In the second game, I mulliganed and kept a pretty fast hand with no disruption at all. It almost paid off, as I managed to get him down to one life... but then he got a pod to stick, ramped it up to six, started doing Sun Titan shenanigans, and before I knew it I was buried in card advantage. 0-2 loss, 0-1 overall
Birthing Pod
 
Match Two vs. Caw Blade
I came out swinging in game one, with several emissaries backed up with removal. I gladly bounced and Dismembered everything I saw while I was slowly but efficiently whittling away his life total. Then he dropped a Hero of Bladehold that I didn't have an answer for... followed by a Frost Titan. The titan couldn't tap my Dungrove, but my Dungrove wasn't big enough to trade either, and I ended up going under. At this point, I had lost three games in a row and was thinking that my early success with this deck might have been a major fluke. Game two, he was mana light, and I managed to Acidic Slime his only blue source... an uninspiring win for me. The third game was really fun, with tempo swinging back and forth multiple times. Unfortunately, his Day of Judgment put us both in topdecking mode. I played Garruk, Primal Hunter, but he had an Oblivion Ring for it, so I only made one beast. He followed with a Squadron Hawk the next turn... I drew a Sword of Vengeance and played it with nothing to carry it. He played more guys his next turn, and I drew a Sword of Feast and Famine. I played it too, with nothing to equip it to. I drew a Sword of War and Peace next... I was drawing lots of great cards, all of them useless without creatures. Finally, I drew a Birds of Paradise and equipped him with Vengeance and Feast/Famine... attacked... untapped my lands... and equipped during the second main phase with Sword of War and Peace. He attacked, bringing me down to three life... and I knew I would have to win on the following turn because he had played a Hero of Bladehold and I wouldn't be able to block enough. Luckily, he kept two cards in his hand, which allowed me to just barely finish him off with the damage trigger from Sword of War and Peace. 2-1 win, 1-1 overall
Hero of Bladehold
 
Match Three vs. Mono Red
I saw goblins and Teetering Peaks and Lightning Bolts... and I thought this was just a regular goblin player. Then, out of nowhere, there was a Kiln Fiend... and then there was Assault Strobe... and then there was Apostle's Blessing... and then I took 14 damage. In came the Obstinate Baloths, as usual... but I also sided in the Spellskites. Apparently, I left him with a lot of dead cards games two and three. 2-1 win, 2-1 overall
Kiln Fiend
 
Match Four vs. Mono Black
I got paired down this game, a 2-1 record vs a 1-2 record... which might explain my terrible tiebreakers at the end of the tournament. Game one, I curved out perfectly, with a timely answer to all of his best cards and a decent sized beater in Dungrove Elder swinging away each turn. He sideboarded in a lot of stuff for game two. I don't know how much of it was hand destruction, but he sure hit me with it hard at the beginning of the game. Still, I thought I would be able to stabilize... I had nothing left in hand, but I had managed to get out a healthy sized Dungrove Elder with a Sword of Feast and Famine on the board that I would be able to equip the next turn. Then he killed my Birds of Paradise and played Geth's Verdict to kill my hexproof guy. I had to respond with a, "Well played, sir," and ended up losing a few turns later to a huge Lashwrithe. For game three, I boarded in the other Obstinate Baloths, one of which he put into play for me with some of his discard. I had hidden a Garruk, Primal Hunter a few cards down with Halimar Depths so that I wouldn't draw it until I could play it, and on turn five I dropped it and started making guys. In the end, it was the Dismember that hit the one guy I couldn't block that saved Garruk, and Garruk's army of eight 6/6 tokens that saved me the game. 2-1 win, 3-1 overall
Lashwrithe
 
I found it odd that they were stopping at four rounds with such a good turnout, but they did, and my tiebreakers were horrendous. I don't know how I ended up placing, but I know that it wasn't high enough to receive prizes. It was a bummer...
 
Still, the deck is enjoyable. From what I've seen so far, the deck doesn't have any amazing matchups, but it doesn't have anything that it automatically loses to either. After some trades and some online purchases, now I'm testing the following version:
 

 
Switching the swords seems like a no-brainer to most people, but the truth is that the trample makes a huge difference for Dungrove Elder and friends. I'm still trying to decide whether two extra copies of Sword of Feast and Famine is really worth it... they're only better when they actually hit the opponent, and this deck just doesn't have that many evasive creatures. Perhaps that's the next thing I'll look into tweaking.
 
As far as the fatties, I found that while I really like the life gain from Obstinate Baloth and Wurmcoil Engine, there have been quite a few games that I really just wanted to get rid of something on my opponent's side of the table. Consecrated Sphinx doesn't do it himself, but does help me draw into more copies of Into the Roil or Dismember, or Beast Within after sideboarding. Frost Titan is another option I'm considering in this slot, as he functions as removal himself rather than having to rely on drawing it.
Consecrated SphinxFrost Titan
 
We'll see whether or not I actually stick with something like this, or if I start making radical changes.
 
Until next time, here's hoping you get the opportunity to evolve your jank into something decently competitive...

18 Comments

Ahh...swords and Garruks by apaulogy at Wed, 08/24/2011 - 11:21
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4

This deck is pretty strong. Hexproof is difficult for most decks to interact with.

Kind of a janky suggestion, but since the game plan is punching them in the face with hexproof guys, maybe Distortion Strike? It has rebound and forces them to answer your 2 turn clock.

Love the evolution. Keep it coming.

First let me say I am not a by Paul Leicht at Wed, 08/24/2011 - 12:36
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First let me say I am not a standard player/builder and I do not play in FNMs anymore so my advice here is tongue in cheek a little.

UG is one of my favorite positions on the color wheel, having written articles dating back 10+ years on the subject. I like the idea behind this but it seems a bit loose.

- Mana Leak by itself as a counterspell, is really best in the early game or against an unwary opponent. Though of course your opponent may be overcautious if you always keep your blue untapped after countering something. I think you might be better off running something like Rite of Replication to out-monster their bombs instead. Since you aren't running dedicated control Mana Leak does not fill in any redundancy gaps but merely is an occasional surprise "no". Not exactly a resounding answer vs the decks you fear.
- Think about Primeval Titan + Frost Titan for the high end of your curve. Primeval interacts nicely with Dungrove which suffers from the blue inclusion. As you mentioned Frost Titan acts to lock down troublesome opposition.
- I would run at least one copy of each in print sword (not vengeance) that gives color protection. Each serves a function. The only drawback to this is you can't really search them out (no Stoneforge Mystics sadly) and so you can't predict which ones you will draw. Preordain could also help.
- Acidic Slime can be devastating. Don't underestimate its effect against enemy swords, etc. I'd run more than one, probably at least 3.

- Consecrated Sphinx is a great card no doubt but as a 4/6 flier it does not trade well vs the likes of Titans and Admonition Angel so you are hoping to draw into a sword to armor it up. That plan seems flawed. It fits better into dedicated control because in that kind of deck it is easier to protect.

- Garruk is hard to argue against but I wondered: why no Jace? It seems like a decent fit.
- Not really convinced by GSZ in this particular last build. With 4 creatures that you can't search out with it, and 14 noncreatures it seems a little limited. Not to say it can't be good but 4x seems a bit much.

Well anyway hope you keep working on this and winning with it.

By the way is Mill a factor at all in your FNM scene? If not, perhaps Ulamog could be something else.

tongue in cheek or not by apaulogy at Wed, 08/24/2011 - 15:45
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This is solid advice. Maybe you should be playing FNMs again. :)

Heh well Neutral Ground by Paul Leicht at Wed, 08/24/2011 - 17:49
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Heh well Neutral Ground closed so that leaves Jim Hanley's Universe in Manhattan, which as I understand it is always a crowded basement. Not my comfort zone. I do plan to head there for some EDH one of these days. The other option in NYC is my friend Alex's store in Brooklyn: Kings Games but that is a schlep and I am not even certain their FNM is constructed. (NG's was always sealed or draft.)

Too, my collection is long gone with only a few cards remaining that have any value. (8000+ old commons do not count.) So yeah not much into the paper game now. It is fun though to analyze decks once in a while and this style of deck (UG) is particularly fun right now.

Paul your not looking at his by apricio at Wed, 08/24/2011 - 13:02
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Paul your not looking at his mana base. He has 5 blue sources, not including birds of blue mana. It's really loose to play mana leak consistantly.

An option to combat this is to add more lands 25-27, in the form of terramorphic expanse, and run explore.
The fetch thins your deck back down, lets you choose between blue or green, and allows you to accerlate while cantripping.

doing this thus, will make mana leak more reliable, double blue for titan and sphinx way more relaiable and enabling you to play ponders/preordains. And possibly jace for control matchups.

Id cut a baloth, and a into the roil for 2 more acidic slimes. Theyre one of your best weapons against the caw.
Do you remember jund and elves when nissa and eldrazi monument came out?
Their(elves) against jund, sb plan was to accelerate into slimes and mold shambler and destroy lands to slow them down. I feel like this is a good way to attack caw right now, seeing that their deck is very mana intensive.
Another way to attack caw is to add more sword of war and peace.

Another note is to make sure you have 4 baloths in the 75 against aggro decks. They are soo good. Tooo goood for the matter.

Well yes but there are the by Paul Leicht at Wed, 08/24/2011 - 17:43
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Well yes but there are the Misty Rainforests. :) I agree about the potential of Explore though I hate having it, playing it and then getting an uncastable card. In that instance I always wish it was preordain or something similar.

I just feel Mana Leak by its lonesome is unreliable as a consistent counter in need. For one thing it is no good once your opponent stabilizes their mana base if they are playing well. (We want to assume hard match ups in the form of well informed and skilled opponents so that we don't falter against such.) For another if your op is also playing counter magic essentially it is just a one for one vs their own counters. Maybe it is more worth it as a SB counter vs certain match ups. (Which? I don't have a clue but Negate would be higher priority in the SB too.)

But yeah acceleration into slime, slime slime is not terrible (:D) and the other fellow who mentioned Metamorph below has a point too. Metamorph can make a list with a bunch of 1-2 ofs a lot stronger and more flexible. Baloth is mostly strong vs certain archetypes so perhaps it belongs fully in the SB too. Man that cabinet is getting smaller and smaller!)

Just a thought... by inkedupdude at Wed, 08/24/2011 - 15:04
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Just a thought, but have you thought of maybe running Phyrexian Metamorph somewhere in your 75?

Thanks for the feedback! by theoutsyder83 at Wed, 08/24/2011 - 20:42
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@apaulogy: Distortion Strike is interesting... I might play a few test games with it just for kicks... but what would I take out for it?

@Paul Leicht: In a lot of ways, this deck plays like old Quirion Dryad decks that I played back when Invasion block was legal (never played any vintage builds w/ dryads so I can't make comparisons there). I'm most comfortable when I can drop a bird on the first turn and an elder on the second turn (usually at 2/2), and then just ride that one threat to victory as he grows and I counter/remove anything that would stand in his way. Mana Leak tricks many opponents into playing more conservatively than they need to. That said, it is a recent addition and will probably be the first thing I cut as I make changes. I haven't had any trouble getting blue to play it, though... 5 blue lands, plus 4 Misty Rainforest, plus 4 BoP, plus 4 Viridian Emissary = plenty of blue. I have on occasion had trouble hitting double blue for a sphinx or Into the Roil's kicker, but that's usually because I had to get more forests so that Dungrove Elder wouldn't just die in combat. Misty Rainforest as a combat trick is so amusing to me for some reason...

I'm sure nobody will bother doing this, but I would suggest testing Sword of Vengeance with Dungrove Elder before dismissing it... there are tons of times when I draw a Sword of X and X, and just think, "Well, that's just great... he can still chump block three more turns... wish this was Sword of Vengeance." I'm not a fan of Sword of Body and Mind, though. I've got a few and one keeps moving in and out of this deck, but every time I draw it, it is disappointing, and I have yet to find myself thinking, "If only I could draw a Sword of Body and Mind right now..."

Acidic Slime is amazing, but I rarely want to draw more than one... thus, one copy with lots of GSZ's. Keep in mind that many of the things I would kill with the slime can also be killed with Beast Within, and Beast Within also kills planeswalkers. As for GSZ itself, I'm not going for the "true" toolbox. I just wanted to stop drawing Sylvan Rangers late game, so I replaced them with GSZ... so if I need the lands, I can get a Viridian Emissary or a BoP. If I don't, I can go get a threat. I would gladly play this deck with 8 Viridian Emissaries and 8 Dungrove Elders... but instead, I'm just running 4 GSZ.

Why no Jace? Depends on which one. No little Jace because double blue early game is hard to hit. No big Jace because I prefer a steady stream of mid-range threats than drawing lands and birds... plus, when I do need to draw cards, he's got the "Draw cards equal to the greatest power among creatures you control" ability, which has yet to be less than 3 for me.

@apricio: Cawblade is a very winnable matchup for me, and I don't want to warp the maindeck too much to fight a deck that, while popular in major tournaments, I'll only see a few of at FNM. I usually out-tempo Cawblade, so killing more than one sword is rarely an issue. I've tried the cantrips and the card draw, but I'd rather be dropping threats. As a tempo deck, every mana that I spend not dropping a threat or removing one of theirs just feels wasted. I definitely agree with you on the Obstinate Baloth assessment. I've finally cut the fourth copy because the GSZ let's me feel like I'm playing extra copies, and 3 + 4 pseudo-baloths has been sufficient in my testing so far.

@inkedupdude: Phyrexian Metamorph... yes... they look amazing... and not including them is probably my biggest brain fart so far with this deck. I intend to run some as soon as I can get my hands on some.

Whew... this might be the longest comment I've ever written... LOL

Thanks for all of the feedback! Feel free to shoot down my logic... I'm still tweaking this deck on a regular basis, so it's good to get your opinions.

Doh! by theoutsyder83 at Wed, 08/24/2011 - 20:44
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And I realize just seconds after I hit "save" that I should have broken all of that up and actually replied to each comment instead of using all of those @'s. My apologies, everyone.

funnny by apaulogy at Wed, 08/24/2011 - 21:02
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You're good, man. Of course, I was at the top of those @s.

Anyway, I think the functional overlap with Distortion strike here would be your Swords of X and X. Just to test. This test will tell you a couple of things: which sword you miss the most and if the strike is worth the slot. Unblockable Hexproof guys seem really dangerous right now.

or he needs trample or flying somehow. Evasion is huge in this format.

Responding with @s is typical by Paul Leicht at Wed, 08/24/2011 - 21:22
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Responding with @s is typical for this site, particular amongst authors because you don't want to artificially inflate your comments. On the other hand doing it the other way is not wrong either. :) I've done both and it really depends on how much time I have to respond and whether or not my response to one comment crystallizes while I am responding to another.

I would just like to point by JMason at Thu, 08/25/2011 - 09:56
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I would just like to point out that starting your article titled "Making Jank Work" whith the words "I've dropped some of the janky elements and come up with a version that's much more consistent and competitive..." sounds a bit lame. I really wanted to see that jank working :P

Fair Enough by theoutsyder83 at Thu, 08/25/2011 - 21:46
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Well, the idea was to build a deck that focused on a couple of cheap cards that most of the people I talked to were scoffing at (Dungrove Elder mainly, but also Sword of Vengeance), and fine tuning the list to make it into a real contender. I am testing versions without Sword of Vengeance, but even in my testing of cards that are "known" to be better (all three versions of Sword of X and X), I continually find myself wishing I had my janky Sword of Vengeance, which most people find laughable... until they're on the wrong end of that combat step.

Still, a fair enough assessment.

As a fellow jank-builder by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 08/26/2011 - 06:47
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As a fellow jank-builder who was already testing Dungrove Elder from Day 1, I've something to say here (asides from "good job, man!"). :)
I really think Paul's comment about Mana Leak being bad here is spot-on. But then, if you cut counter magic, I wonder what's blue in there for? Just for Into the Roil and a couple fatties still to be fully decided upon?
I've run a monogreen version of this deck, and while it's far from being a successful deck, I feel like currently green doesn't need any backup. In a monogreen build you've room for everything, including the elephant in the room here, which is Thrun. I concur about Sword of Vengeance, you really want to give trample to those non-evasive hexproof guys, and I learned that by running Thrun essentially in every std deck I built, including Valakut. Control decks just cringe when they see Thrun. When they see the Elder, that's more of an annoyed grunt.
That said, I've also run a RG build. With red, you get actual dual lands (including Raging Ravine, which isn't the worst manland), Lightning Bolt, Pyroclasm/Slagstorm, Inferno Titan and Urabrask.

One thing about the Emissary. I'm not so in love with him. In decks where you don't have consistent ways to get him in the graveyard (like in Birthing Pod builds, for instance, where he's terrific), he often feels like a strictly worse Grizzly Bears which gives you a door prize when he leaves, something which isn't going to make any difference on Turn 10, and doesn't guarantee any ramping on Turn 3, unless you're facing goblins or vampires. I don't know, in the end, even if he really could give you a trade AND a land, he's making me miss Sakura-Tribe Elder, and I had thought otherwise when I had seen it spoiled for the first time.

Agreed on Most Points... by theoutsyder83 at Sat, 08/27/2011 - 13:41
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As far as "What's the blue there for?" I agree... for last night's FNM, I actually cut it completely and ran a pair of swamps with Doom Blade replacing Into the Roil and Skinshifter replacing Mana Leak. I didn't fare so well... 1-2 drop, beating Vampires and losing to Valakut (got crushed) and Tempered Steel (lost game three due to a terrible misplay). I have tried a red-green version of this, but wasn't satisfied with my results. I might give it another shot, since you mentioned it... nothing wrong with giving it another run now that some of the top tier decks have evolved. The biggest issue I have with a red or white splash is the lack of a good fetch land... Terramorphic Expanse is cool, but coming into play tapped is a real pain for an aggressive deck like this one.

Skinshifter is another janky card, BTW. I love it... it has a lot of potential... but I never really felt satisfied with it.

I usually find Thrun to be a smaller, more expensive Dungrove that regenerates. Regeneration can be cool, but given the choice, I'll take Dungrove. Perhaps I should cut the "fatties," run both, and just make Garruk the top of my curve... I guess that's an option.

About the Emissary: I've found that in matches where the ramp is needed (aggro), he always ramps... and in matches where a cheap threat is needed (control), he's still better than a BoP when carrying a sword. I can't think of any mana ramp that is a useful draw on turn ten (BoP, Llanowar Elves, Rampant Growth, Cultivate, etc), so I'm not sure about that part...

In any case, you've definitely given me some things to ponder. Thanks for the input!

Losing game 3 to a misplay is by Paul Leicht at Sat, 08/27/2011 - 16:10
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Losing game 3 to a misplay is not getting crushed. Sounds like an improvement. Tectonic Edge for Valakut in the sb maybe?

It was bad... by theoutsyder83 at Sun, 08/28/2011 - 00:19
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The misplay in game three was in the game against Tempered Steel. I got too greedy with my Dungrove Elder... went for too much green mana instead of black and then ended up one life short with both a Verdant Catacombs and a Dismember in hand... there wasn't a way for me to play the Dismember without hitting myself, and he had exactly lethal damage the following turn either way...

No, that Valakut matchup really hurt. Can't remember the name of the card at the moment, but I lost to the guy that makes lots of plants and then pumps them up with landfall triggers. My deck doesn't handle hordes well at all. It was an 0-2 loss, and I didn't notice any misplays... I was just overrun.

Tectonic Edge is indeed an addition I'm going to make... and to go along with them, I think I'm going to add Primeval Titans. They really fit the theme, letting me play fewer utility lands (like only one copy of Halimar Depths... and maybe the plant making green land... maybe even a Bojuka Bog for those stupid white titan shenanigans) while making Dungrove bigger by beefing up my forest count in the late game. They also trample, so getting damage through with swords will be easier too. I don't know why I didn't test them earlier. Doh!

Avenger of Zendikar is the by Paul Leicht at Sun, 08/28/2011 - 02:28
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Avenger of Zendikar is the one play where a mana leak could seriously wreck them since typically the Valakut player rushes Avenger out to get in a massive advantage before you can stem the tide so a "NO if you don't pay 3" is really good despite what I said about it earlier. I would consider how common this deck is in your meta and then think about filling the SB accordingly. It is really tough to predict without knowing who is a regular and what they do to prepare. (Do they read m:tg sites for example?)

You can also deal with it by bringing your Metamorphs to bear (copying the Avenger with a nice stack of lands in play can really be a beating they didn't count on. Particularly if you show no blue and then Whoops!

On the other hand if you decide to BG you can use Go For The Throats to take care of bombs and Massacre Wurms and Black Sun's Zenith for the tokens.

That match up is where the Obstinate Baloths really shine too since Valakut is focused on your 20 and a 4/4 in the 4 slot is a nice beef they can't just bolt/valakut away.

Overall your problem is that you are trying a rogue (overlooked rather) archetype in a field of fairly well known well tuned decks. Tempered Steel is just a beating that is hard to overcome. That you can go toe to toe with it speaks well of the deck but might also be a sign the player isn't that good. (No offense I hope.)

The positive is your opponents may underestimate your chances, particularly since there is STILL a prevailing theory that Green is just bad among a certain class of player. Also adding Primeval Titan will give you some top end to work with. It is most definitely an A list team member for green.

Here is a possible GB build:
creatures (18)
4 Primeval Titan (!)
4 Birds of Paradise
2 Acidic Slime (2 main = answers to enemy swords, Tempered Steel etc)
4 Dungrove Elder
3 Obstinate Baloth (The extra life you gain here is complimented by the 4/4 for 4 body. And it is a bonus main vs random discard.)
1 Masacre Wurm (nice to have a body that sweeps.)

spells (12)
3 Go For the Throat (Try this out and if you like it maybe think about upping it to 4.)
1 Black Sun's Zenith (Main deck it is just a good mass sweeper and keeps giving, toss in the others vs Valakut and other decks that produce a lot of guys (Tempered Steel might not like seeing this either since they like to build up a little army.))
2 Green Sun's Zenith (Lowered this to two since you don't need it in the opening hand normally.)
3 Dismember (Not really convinced by this but it does kill a lot of things that aren't titans.)
3 Cultivate (this is imho strictly better than Veridian Emissary even though you don't get the blocker.) Two lands thinned/two lands in hand/play > 1 land thin/in play.

artifacts (4)
4 Swords (your choice which but Id go with at least one of each)

Planeswalkers (2)
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
(36 nonlands)
Lands (24)
3 Bojuka Bog
4 Swamp (could be two verdant catacombs + 2 swamps but I think that is cutting it close)
4 Tectonic Edge (You could alternate this with Khalni Garden and see how each does in the slot, mixing and matching until it is right.)

14 Forest (could be two verdant catacombs + 12 forests)
(60 cards)
Sideboard (15)
4 Beast Within
1 Obstinate Baloth
3 Black Sun's Zenith
2 Masacre Wurm
3 Creeping Corrosion
2 Acidic Slime
(75 cards)